Town of Huntington

Drive past the corner of Elwood Road and Cuba Hill Road and you’ll see a sign that reads “Elwood: ‘The heart of Huntington.”’

Centrally located in the Town of Huntington, the 5-square-mile hamlet of Elwood is known as a close community with a strong sense of heritage and pride. In fact, they are home to the Elwood Civic Association, founded in 1945, it is the longest active civic organization in Huntington Town history.

For James Tomeo, civic vice president, it is personal for him. He simply wants to make a positive impact on the community and in turn do what he can to leave Elwood in better shape for his children and the next generation.

“Elwood is a great place to live and we want the younger generation to know the importance of civics and being involved in the community,” he said.

Previously known for over 60 years as the Elwood Taxpayers Association, Tomeo said he and others thought it was time to drop “taxpayers” in hopes of bringing in new members and more community involvement.

“There was a perception we were inclusive, just anti-taxes,” Tomeo said. “We wanted to get rid of that negative connotation and change our platform back to being more community-based.”

Since the name change in June, Tomeo said the feedback from the community has been  positive. The group has recently hosted a food drive with Long Island Cares and was able to collect 300 pounds of food and hosted events for Veterans Days and 9/11 among other causes.

Tomeo also said they have partnered with John Glenn High School to create its first Student Scholarship to be given to a graduating senior who has been involved in community service or civics.

“The Elwood Union Free School District is what unifies and brings us together,” he said. “We are comprised of three ZIP codes, two fire districts, two legislative districts and we thought it was important to give back in some way and show the importance of civics.”

Heather Mammalito, the secretary of the civic group and a member for the past six years, said they want to bring people into the fold who weren’t involved in the community before.

“We want to keep people informed and we want to engage younger residents in the community as well,” she said.

 As part of the rebranding, the group said they have plans to revamp its Facebook and website in an effort to attract new members into the fold.

“You need a voice, you don’t want to lose that,” she said. “We want to make sure we are leaving a positive imprint and teach others to have roots in the community.”

Tomeo agrees, saying that many of the qualities that brought his parents here years ago are still present today.

“I want to make sure the way of life here continues to be great and be able to pass the torch to the next generation of Elwood residents,” he said. “Elwood fights to stay who we are.”

Residents interested in joining the Elwood Civic Association should visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/elwoodcivic/. The group holds its meetings at Elwood Public Library on the second Wednesday of each month, except January and February.

Town of Huntington closes on Chase Bank site and opens site as municipal parking lot.

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) has announced that the lot at the northwest corner of New York Avenue and Gerard Street in Huntington Village is open for parking now that the Town has taken possession at a Nov. 8 closing on the property.

“I’m happy to announce 30 new downtown Huntington village parking spaces are now open to help alleviate parking congestion,” said Lupinacci. “This immediate expansion of our parking supply will more than double in 2020 when the temperature is optimal for paving.”

The Town opened the former Chase Bank parking lot for free parking after taking possession of the property. The existing lot has 30 marked spaces: 29 regular and one handicap spot.

The Town plans to leave the existing parking lot open through the holiday season and start demolition of the former Chase Bank building in 2020 and reconstruction of the lot, which will combine the former bank lot with the adjacent existing Municipal Lot 49 located immediately to the north, when temperatures can support paving work.

The Town board approved the purchase of the bank location at its May 29 meeting, in an amount not to exceed $3.05 million. The property is located at 295 New York Ave., at the corner of Gerard Street. 

The Town’s conceptual design adds approximately 71 new municipal parking spaces to downtown Huntington village, including three handicapped parking spots. Construction will be completed in the spring.

New York State Archivist Thomas Ruller presents Jo-Ann Raia with Leadership Award.

Jo-Ann Raia (R) was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Archives and Records Management in New York State by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust. The award was recently presented to Raia at a ceremony at the Cultural Education Center in Albany. 

“Every year we recognize individuals and organizations that have done outstanding work in managing records and preserving New York’s history,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “This year’s award winners do exemplary work to ensure that our state’s records are efficiently managed and are preserved appropriately for future research and use.”

Throughout her time as the Town of Huntington clerk, Raia has been a champion for archives and records management. One of her greatest contributions to the Town has been the development of a computerized records management program, which manages the holdings of the Records Center and Archives. Because of Raia’s hard work and dedication, the Town’s records center serves as a model for the entire state.

“We applaud the organizations and individuals who work every day to manage records to ensure accountability, efficiency and accessibility,” said Interim State Education Commissioner Beth Berlin. “Their dedication to archives and records management has inspired excellent programs and processes that serve as models for the entire state.”

Raia will retire at the end of the year from her post as Town clerk after 10 consecutive terms that span four decades. She has developed and implemented systems to create what has been regarded as an exemplary archive and record management system.

“We’re proud to recognize excellence in the use and care of New York’s records by individuals and organizations across New York,” said Thomas Ruller, archivist of New York State. “Thanks to the work and dedication of this year’s winners, New York’s documentary resources will be well managed, appropriately preserved and effectively used for generations to come.”

The annual archives awards program takes place every October, during American Archives Month, and recognizes outstanding efforts in archives and records management work in New York State by a broad range of individuals and organizations.

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Officials in the Town of Huntington have scheduled a special cluster development hearing for Nov. 20 on The Preserve at Indian Hills. The draft environmental impact statement hearing ended Nov. 5, but concerns continue.

The 55-and-over housing development is proposed to be built on the Indian Hills Golf Course in Northport and have 98 town houses, a new fitness center and an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course. 

The special subdivision hearing was scheduled due to the public’s high level of interest in the project. The draft environmental impact hearing was held in September, and typically that would have been the only hearing for the environmental impact report and its subdivision application. The planning board scheduled a separate public hearing in an effort to provide transparency and extend more time for the public to submit comments, according to town officials. 

Other project updates include the town voting to hire an outside consultant for the environmental review process on Oct. 10. Melville-based engineering firm AECOM will be tasked in assisting the planning board in evaluating the environmental impact statement. 

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said they are anxious for the next stage in Preserve’s development process. 

“We were glad the town extended the public comment period, the more input we can put in the better,” he said.

The association sent in 180 pages of input to the town planning board.

Critics of the development have pointed to environmental impacts and negative effects on property values, as well as concerns on watershed quality and the surrounding wetlands. 

“Not much has changed [since the last hearing]. It is still overwhelmingly opposed by residents,” Hayes said. “There are pollution and environmental issues from the DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Statement] that the developers need to understand.”

The president of the association also was concerned about the eroding bluffs near the proposed development. 

Previously, the group asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills. Others have urged the planning board to complete the Crab Meadow Watershed study before making any conclusions on the project.

“We’re hopeful that the planning board will listen to our concerns,” Hayes said. 

After the preliminary subdivision hearing, there will be a final environmental impact statement hearing and then a final subdivision hearing. The planning board cannot vote on the development until the environmental statement process is complete. The application review period will extend into 2020, according to town officials. 

County officials and environmental activists look at designs for new water system at the Vanderbilt Museum.

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum has installed two innovative systems for processing wastewater that significantly reduce the harmful impact of nitrogen pollution in the Northport Bay. The new technology builds on the county’s efforts to address excess nitrogen from wastewater leaching into local waters, which once the epicenter of the region’s red tide. 

New water system at the Vanderbilt museum.

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and county Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) announced the installations at an Oct. 30 press event at the museum. 

“The science is clear and the solution has been established,” Bellone said. 

He noted that it is necessary to replace outdated technologies that do not reduce nitrogen pollution with new technologies that do.

“We have a $6.1 billion tourism economy that is underpinned by water,” Bellone added. “With strong support from academia, business leaders and the environmental community, our region is no longer kicking the can down the road, but is taking aggressive action to reverse the water quality crisis to better protect our waterways for future generations.”

More than 115,000 people visit the park each year and the upgrade will benefit local waterways by reducing nitrogen discharge at the site by approximately 164 pounds annually. 

To date, the county has installed advanced wastewater treatment systems at Lake Ronkonkoma and Meschutt Beach, and is currently in the process of installing 13 additional systems at other parks. 

The major contributor to water quality issues, Spencer said, is nitrogen discharges from more than 360,000 antiquated cesspools in Suffolk. 

“I am so pleased to see this technology brought to our county parks, specifically the Vanderbilt Museum, which sits directly beside a water body that we have worked so hard to restore,” Spencer added. He said upgrades to Northport’s sewage treatment plant resulted in a massive reduction in nitrogen discharge, and produced tangible benefits including the absence of red tide and the reopening of a permanently closed Centerport beach.

The investment at Vanderbilt is expected to progress, improve and protect the region’s natural resources, Spencer added. 

Officials also announced at the press event that during the month of October alone, more than 100 residents have applied for grants through the county’s septic improvement program, and that next year the county plans to install 1,200 nitrogen-reducing wastewater treatment systems, doubling the amount currently installed. 

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, applauded the progress and collaborative efforts of everyone involved. 

“This is what change looks like, one installation at a time,” she said. “Good science, good advocacy and good elected officials give us good policy, and fortunately that’s what we have seen on the water quality issue in Suffolk County.”  

The installation of the new systems is part of the county’s Reclaim Our Water initiative, which seeks to reduce nitrogen pollution of surface and groundwaters. 

Homeowners outside of a sewer district are encouraged to apply for grant funding and low interest loans to assist in paying to upgrade to an innovative system. Visit www.reclaimourwater.info to find out more.

Neighbors near the Del Vino Vineyards on Norwood Road in Northport are struggling with traffic congestion and other concerns related to vineyard operations. Photo from Norwood Community Watch Group

After numerous residents complained about parking, traffic congestion and safety concerns on neighborhood streets around the Del Vino Vineyards in Northport, officials unanimously voted at an Oct. 16 board meeting to adopt parking restrictions to certain residential streets.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (R), who co-sponsored the resolution, said they recently met with the vineyard’s neighbors to discuss the parking problems in their neighborhood. 

“This is something we wanted, but now what do we do about street parking for us.”

— Tom Ryan

“The no-parking signs should be installed by the end of the month and we are hopeful that the signs will be effective in addressing these issues,” Cuthbertson said. 

The restrictions prohibit parking around the vineyard on both sides of Norwood Road between Starlit Drive and Russell Court as well as both sides of Starlit Drive 700 feet south of Norwood Road. The no-parking zones, which officially take effect as soon as the signs go up, will be enforced Monday to Friday from 4 to 11 p.m. and weekends from 1 to 11 p.m. Also, parking on Sound Court is prohibited at all times. 

Tom Ryan, who has lived on Norwood Road for the past nine years, and has advocated for parking restrictions along with other neighbors, said the approved changes are the lesser of two evils. 

“This is something we wanted, but now what do we do about street parking for us,” he said. 

Ryan said the new arrangement was the best option to tackle the problem, because the traffic and parking situation on residential streets has gotten completely out of control with numerous tour buses coming and going as they drop off patrons near the vineyard. A steady stream of Uber and Lyft vehicles also clog local streets.

Anthony Guardino, a Hauppauge-based attorney and representative for the vineyard’s owner Frederick Giachetti, did not respond for comment on the approved restrictions by press time. He previously said at a Sept. 17 public hearing that the restrictions were unreasonable, and it would be only fair to adopt a resolution that bans all parking on those streets regardless of the time.

“We’re anxious for the signs, as of now we have resorted to putting up garbage cans, traffic cones and caution tape to deter people from parking on the street,” Ryan said. 

The tactic seems to be working, they say. However, neighbors on Starlit Drive, who are located closer to the vineyard, have had patrons disregard the obstacles and when asked to not to park in front of homes, they’ve countered that it is a public street. 

In the aftermath of the approved parking restrictions, residents who live further back from the no-parking zones are worried that the parking problem will shift closer to them. 

Ryan expects that the shift will happen. Residents outside the immediate perimeter of the new restrictions have already reached out to town officials to add additional no-parking zones to avoid pushing the congestion deeper into the neighborhood.    

Ryan said this is just one chapter of many other chapters going forward in regard to the vineyard. 

He and other neighbors are now concerned about additional capacity problems at the vineyard, since the business was approved to build a second-floor deck by the town planning board in September. 

Additionally, the owner has proposed in the past about adding 60-80 additional parking spots at the vineyard, which would increase the lot size from 120 spaces to up to 200. 

The vineyard has been a thorn in the side of many residents since it first opened in November 2018. Neighbors have said that the core issue is that Del Vino lacks adequate on-site parking, which caused the problems.

Ryan said it could alleviate some of the parking problems, but it wouldn’t relieve the patron and traffic congestion in the area. 

“The owner is someone who just continues to push the envelope,” he said. 

Some roads near the vineyard have become so crowded, residents said, that it only can accommodate one-way traffic. They have also complained that vineyard patrons pass-out on lawns and urinate in public. 

Community gathers at Northport Middle School for 'sickout' . Photo by Donna Deddy

November 7 should have been a normal school day at Northport Middle School, according to a letter that the district sent out to its families on Tuesday. However, community members organized a protest called a “sickout” Thursday morning because of ongoing concerns that date back decades with air quality issues in the building.

Most recently, a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system installed in 2018 is being blamed for causing what the district calls “unpleasant odors” in certain wings of the building. That situation, the district states, has been addressed. After inspections, it found no visible cause for the problem. It has attributed the odor to heating elements being used for the first time and debris captured in drip plates on the building’s roof. No evidence of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, airborne particulates or mold was found in its air sampling, the district said.

However, children were complaining of “dead animal smells” that caused headaches, coughing and vomiting, and after decades of ongoing health concerns, parents, retired teachers and other community members are calling for stronger action.

“The building needs to be closed,” Tara Mackey said.  “No question about it.”

“The building needs to be closed, no question about it” 

– Tara Mackey

Her child’s blood work, she said, identified a clear pattern of carbon monoxide exposure that spiked during school sessions and cleared during school vacations. The family ultimately moved last June in response to the concern after what she calls a two-and-a-half-year ordeal.

More than 600 students attend Northport Middle School on Middleville Road. The district did not respond to repeated requests for information on the number of students that have fallen ill from the latest air quality concerns at the school. People interviewed for this report and state on Facebook that their children in the past have suffered with nose bleeds, chronic coughs to the point of vomiting, asthma and headaches.

Parents, who have conducted their own informal study, have identified 18 students who were diagnosed over the last 10 years with leukemia, lymphoma and aplastic anemia, all rare diseases often caused by environmental exposures. Four children, they say, have died. 

New York State Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) has asked the New York State Department of Health to conduct a longitudinal study in response to the concerns in a Nov. 1 letter. Earlier this year, lawmakers requested studies, when they learned that five recent Northport High School graduates from the same graduating class were diagnosed with blood cancers. That study is ongoing.

Northport Middle School renovated wings of its school in 2018 to address ongoing air quality issues. Photo from Northport-East Northport School District

“We are continuing our review of cancers reportedly developed among former students of the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District,” said Erin Hammond, press officer for the state health department. “We look forward to sharing our findings with the community in early 2020. Any further investigation will depend on the findings of the ongoing review. Again, genetics, lifestyle choices and environmental exposure histories are all potential contributing factors for cancer and are taken into consideration in incidence investigations.”

Former teachers have also reportedly fallen ill. John Kobel said that he has skin cancer, prostate cancer, heavy metal contamination and occupationally induced respiratory disease after working in the science classroom in the middle school, where he said chemicals were improperly stored in a closet cesspool. The sinks’ drains, he said, also lacked traps as code dictates. The former teacher surveyed about 200 to 300 staff members and learned that 33 former teachers also have cancer.

Government officials have said in telephone interviews that they want to avoid public hysteria.

But the lack of adequate oversight has been a concern. Some people say that there is a cover-up. They say that district officials have not completed shallow and deep soil and groundwater testing on-site or published copies of the inspection reports for two 4,000-gallon underground storage tanks that store the diesel fuel for the districts buses, which refuel at the same location. They also wonder, when prompted, why the district decided against comparing the reasons for health office visits at the district’s two middle schools. They worry about underground plumes and exhaust from idling buses at the district depot on-site. There’s also been concerns about mold in the building. 

The site is also roughly two miles from the Covanta plant, a facility that burns 750 tons per day of municipal waste from residential, commercial and industrial sources. The facility, which began operations in 1991, also incinerates the combustible portion of construction and demolition (C&D) debris, light industrial waste, shredded tires, sewage treatment plant sludge and other nonhazardous industrial waste streams on-site as approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on a case by case basis. 

Covanta Huntington, also known as the Huntington Resource Recovery Plant, is a major source of air emissions in the region and is considered among the largest in New York. The region’s air quality for oxides of nitrogen and VOCs exceed safe standards, which causes asthma and other respiratory ailments. But the facility’s emissions are within all permissible limits set for the plant by the DEC. 

“It’s just not possible for Covanta to be a factor,”  James Regan, media relations director. “Other schools, the Fifth Avenue School, Bellerose Avenue and Commack Union Free Schools are also close by, and they have no odor complaints there.”

Prevailing winds, Regan also said, blow its emissions in different directions. The company, he said, will gladly host a site tour to show community members how the facility works and cannot possibly be the cause.

The Suffolk County Department of Health states that schools fall under the state’s jurisdiction. The state department of health states that “local school districts are responsible for monitoring air quality in its schools.” The state health department added that it’s available for technical assistance, if requested.

Through its public relations firm, the district states that it has reached out to the state for assistance. 

In the past year, the school has changed its refueling schedule for buses on site, renovated wings of the school, removed hazardous material stored on-site below classrooms and installed new ventilation equipment, among other actions taken.

The district stated in its Nov. 4 letter that the school board will discuss and approve more testing and form a committee to further review the situation at its Nov. 7 board meeting. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at W.J. Brosnan School, 158 Laurel Ave., Northport.

The district has documented the actions it’s taken and its correspondence with the public and teachers union on its website. 

The Facebook page Close Northport Middle School Long Island, New York states that more than 50 people signed up to attend the “sickout.” They are calling on kids to wear blue to school, if they plan on attending classes to support the cause. 

David Luces contributed to this story. 

 

 

File photo

It’s status quo in Huntington. Voters reelected incumbents to fill seats in the county Legislature and town council.

Andrew Raia and his mother Jo-Ann Raia watch the election night returns. He took more than 57 percent of the vote for town clerk. Photo by. Donna Deedy

The popularity of Joan Cergol (D) shined through on election night, maintaining a clear voter count lead as district results were reported. Eugene Cook (R) eventually took back his seat for town council, but early on election night it looked as if challengers Kathleen Cleary (D) or Andrea Sorrentino (R) might unseat him.

“It’s been quite a journey,” Sorrentino said. “I’m just a guy off the street who decided to run and became a strong contender in this election.”

In the end, Republicans maintain control of the town council with the same people representing citizens. And with Steve Bellone (D) cinching the county executive for a third term, it’s government as usual until the next election cycle.

The big change in Huntington: Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia, who served for 40 years, passes the baton to her son Andrew (R-East Northport), a state Assemblyman for 17 years. He stays in state office until Dec. 31 and assumes his role as town clerk Jan. 1. “I’ll be working two jobs for the rest of the year,” he said. “The first thing I’ll do is help my mother clear off her desk.”

He expects to leave state government with impact. On Nov. 1, he requested that the state Department of Health conduct a longitudinal study for the Northport Middle School, where students, teachers and staff have reported for decades poor air quality, enough to make people seriously ill. Some people blame the building for the school community’s high cancer rates and other rare illnesses.

Raia’s vacant state Assembly seat could trigger a special election. The process, Raia said, doesn’t require a primary. The governor, Andrew Cuomo (D), however, may opt to skip on a special election, since 2020 is an election year. The governor has 77 days from Jan. 1 to decide, according to Raia. 

David Luces, Rita J. Egan, Leah Chiappino and Donna Deedy all contributed reporting.

People go to vote at the Albert G. Prodell Middle School in Shoreham. Photo by Kyle Barr

Suffolk County Executive:

(WINNER) Steve Bellone (D) – 55.42% – 148,043 votes

John M. Kennedy Jr. (R) – 43.38% – 115,867 votes 

Gregory Fisher (L) – 1.18% – 3,147 votes 

 

Brookhaven Town Supervisor: 

(WINNER) Ed Romaine (R) – 61.52% – 51,155 votes 

Will Ferraro (D) – 37.42% – 31.113 votes 

Junie Legister (L) – 1.04% – 865 votes 

 

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent: 

(WINNER) Dan Losquadro (R) – 58.47% – 48, 624 votes 

Anthony Portesy (D) – 41.51% – 34,514 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 1st District: 

(WINNER) Valerie Catright (D) – 57.36% – 8,647 votes 

Tracy Kosciuk (R) – 42.59% – 6,421 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 2nd District: 

(WINNER) Jane Bonner (C) – 61.97% – 10,028 votes 

Sarah Deonarine (D) – 37.99% – 6,147 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 3rd District:

(WINNER) Kevin LaValle (R) – 65.12% – 8,228 votes 

Talat Hamandi (D) – 34.85% – 4,404 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 6th District: 

(WINNER) Sarah Anker (D) – 54.32% – 9,715 votes 

Gary Pollakusky (R) – 41.05% – 7,342 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 5th District: 

(WINNER) Kara Hahn (D) – 63.1% – 9,763 votes 

John McCormack (R) – 36.88% – 5,706 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 4th District: 

(WINNER) Thomas Muratore (R) – 58.97% – 7,275 votes 

David T. Bligh (D) – 39.23% – 4,839 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 16th District

(WINNER) Susan Berland (D) – 53.89% – 6,501 votes 

Hector Gavilla (R) – 46.08% – 5,559 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 13th District: 

(WINNER) Rob Trotta (R) – 61.99% – 10,385 votes 

Janet Singer (D) – 38.01% – 6,367 votes

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 18th District:

(WINNER) William “Doc” Spencer (D) – 61.47% – 11,998 votes 

Garrett Chelius (R) – 33.81% – 6,599 votes 

Daniel West (C) – 4.71% – 919 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 15th District:

(WINNER) DuWayne Gregory (D) – 72.15% – 7,037 votes

Chrisopher G. Connors (R) – 27.68% – 2,700 votes 

 

Huntington town council member – two seats:

(WINNER) Joan Cergol (D) – 26% – 20,882 votes 

(WINNER) Eugene Cook (R) – 24.81%- 19,931 votes 

Andre Sorrentino Jr. (R) – 24.07% – 19,336 votes 

Kathleen Clearly (D) – 23.38% – 18,777 votes 

 

Huntington Town Clerk: 

(WINNER) Andrew Raia (R) – 57.71% – 23,804 votes 

Simon Saks (D) – 42.28% – 17,441 votes 

 

Smithtown town council member – two seats: 

(WINNER) Thomas Lohmann (R) – 32.35% – 14,076 votes

(WINNER) Lisa Inzerillo (R) – 32% – 13,925 votes 

Richard S Macellaro (D) – 17.36% – 7,556 votes

Richard Guttman (D) – 17.32% – 7,535 votes 

 

 

 

Community gathers at the Old First Church in Huntington to celebrate those who have conquered addiction and remembering those who have been lost.

The Town of Huntington Opioid and Addiction Task Force invited residents to join a special program Oct. 28 at the Old First Presbyterian Church in Huntington celebrating those who have conquered addiction and remembering those who have been lost.

 The program, “A Recovery Event: Celebrating Hope in Huntington,” featured first-hand accounts from those who have conquered addiction, information about local prevention, treatment and recovery programs, and a stirring performance by the Old First Church Sanctuary Choir.  Sharon Richmond shared her story about her son Vincent.  The ceremony was dedicated to his honor. (See page A5 for her story.)

 “Huntington, like every other community in America, has been hit hard by the opioid crisis,” said Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), who sponsored the program with the task force. “We created this event to show that there is a cause for hope and that in fact that there are thousands of local residents who have found a path to recovery,”

The event drew more than 100 people to the Old First Church. A highlight of the evening was a candlelight circle to celebrate, honor and remember those who were lost as a result of their addiction.

Created by a town board resolution in December 2017, the Opioid and Addiction Task Force includes local health care professionals, educators and community leaders. It works to unify, support and strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts within the town. Its goals include reducing the incidence of substance abuse, promoting timely access to care for consumers and their families, creating environments conducive to recovery and reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorders.

“Many of our families have been greatly affected — their lives changed forever after losing a loved one to addiction,” Cuthbertson said. “We know that substance abuse is preventable, addiction is treatable and recovery works.”

The town is hanging resource information posters around town.

“Somebody is waiting for you to come to them,” said Stephen Donnelly, who has sponsored different opioid services in the past. He encourages people to ask people impacted:  “How can I help you?”

For Treatment Referral List contact the 24/7 hotline 631-979-1700. Help is a phone call away.

Photo by Donna Deedy